Those who would give up essential liberty to give corporations more ‘freedom’ deserve aren’t that interested in freedom
Three months after Senator Rand Paul’s super-important, epoch-changing 13-hour drone filibuster, more than 90% of House Republicans voted to continue the policy of indefinite detention and to keep the Guantanamo Bay prison open.
But a small group of Republicans actually joined the vast majority of Democrats to oppose these obvious affronts to civil liberties. And that’s at least little progress. Paul is picking his spots to dissent from his party’s orthodoxy. For instance, he’s warning against intervening in Syria as Senator John McCain is trying to arm any rebels he can find.
Paul’s isolationism used to typify the Republican Party until World War II which has since metastasized into a neoconservativism that seeks endless conflict and has no problem with the compromises to civil liberties that war justifies. I’d suggest our foreign policy should probably be somewhere between these two poles, allowing us to prevent humanitarian disasters instead of actually creating them.
We need Republicans willing to speak out against war and in defense of our civil liberties, whether they are sincere or not. Unless there is that conflict in their own ranks, we get more Cheneys whose only concern is the constant application or threat of force that grows the military-industrial complex.
Yet we also have to remember that these civil libertarians may speak in defense of liberty but they’re just as bad or worse than the rest of their party when it comes civil rights and voting rights. Rand Paul would outlaw abortion. He doesn’t think Paul Ryan’s budgets, which shred the safety new, cut government fast enough. He’s skeptical of the minimum wage. He thinks we should cheer on Big Oil because climate change is a conspiracy to destroy capitalism.
Civil libertarians are rightly obsessed with theoretical dangers. What could the government do with unchecked power and endless access to our information? Thus far the threat of what they could do is much scarier than what they have actually done with all this information, unless there’s actual Stasi stuff going on I’ve missed.
But let me say this clearly: The most pressing threat to our liberty isn’t a government intent on surveillance, it’s the continuing loss of our economic freedom.
Over the last three decades a government-engineered transfer of wealth to the richest who can spend anonymously to win elections has empowered a political movement intent on privatizing Social Security, Medicare, public education, prisons and anything we can’t nail down. Without labor unions to act as our collective voice, these forces compel us into an existence where we are dependent entirely on corporations to survive. (And when it comes to economic freedom, there has been no bigger victory for it in generations than the Affordable Care Act.)
Rand Paul is also a part of this movement that actually threatens our liberty.
But at least he — unlike most Republicans — is fighting to keep our Constitutional rights. Because if you think speaking out against a massive surveillance state is scary now, wait till the Koch brothers and Walmart get a hold of it.
[Photo credit ctj71081 | Flickr]